Last Thursday the Taste of Temecula staff was fortunate enough to meet up with Melody and Chris Johnston owners of Middle Ridge Winery, at The Wine Collective. We were there to sample some wine, hopefully get a wine pick of the week. Done and done.
Middle Ridge Winery currently has six varietals bottled with a few more aging away in barrels. This is quite the achievement for a new winery, especially for one that until recently was run out a garage in the Mountain community of Idllywild.
Chris is quite the tinkerer and I think he enjoys the creative process maybe more than the actual wine. Our discussion started easy on acid levels and pH and kept progressing until he was discussing titration and his new pipet dispenser. Chris has a great future as a Scientist if he ever gets bored of being a Wine Maker.
2008 Pinot Grigio ($21): This fruit is from a new vineyard—Blue’s Creek Vineyard, named after the growers dog—and three year old vines. As such it was a little green and vinous, so Chris Johnston decided to do a very unusual move and take the Pinot Grigio through full malolactic fermentation in hopes of softening the rough edges. It worked, and much better then expected.
The Pinot Grigio was typical in style for the varietal, very drinkable with a floral nose and green apple nose, crisp finish. Described by Chris as one of his ‘deck wines’, which are wines that you enjoy on your deck and do not have to think too much about.
The 2009 on the other hand was made with three distinct yeasts, and promises to add a huge range on palate. This should be a great wine to drink once it is bottled.
Head To Head
Chris likes to have fun
while making wine, and what could be more interesting that putting two identical wines in every way except for their vineyard, and explore the differences in terroir. The 2008 Middle Ridge Sauvignon Blanc’s do exactly that. Both wines had identical yeast, pH, acid levels and processing.
2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Paso Robles ($18). Sancerre in typicity, delicate nose a little sour, smooth finish.
2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula ($18). Little bit of grass and mint on the nose, green tea on the palate, very crisp and refined finish. Typical California-style.
Additional wine duo’s are planned in the future, and it is such a fun way to drink wine…and has the commercial benefit of selling another bottle to the consumer!
2006 Meritage ($32) – 18 months on oak, Merlot (69%), Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot., Wonderful big berry, very mellow wine, very easy to drink. Will encourage lounging around and loafing about.
2006 Syrah ($28) – This is a serious wine which was described by Chris as “is this the squish or not”? The wine spent 19 months on French Oak. Grapes are from Temecula. Plum, subtle oak, a little tobacco, balanced, medium finish. Very well made Syrah. Will stand up to rich food very well.
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Temecula Valley ($36)
Smooth and ready to drink, berry, and some spice, mellow tannins, good length on the finish.
To be released soon is a 2008 Cabernet Franc, a wine that is highly anticipated.
Not content to rest on their laurels the Johnstons are looking at creating two new wine labels, the first for a super premium wine which is currently slumbering away, and a second for their ‘deck-wine’ series of quaffable and eminently drinkable wines that you will enjoy on your deck while preparing dinner on the BBQ.
Middle Ridge winery has it’s base of operations at Temecula Valley Winery Management, which is a unique one service stop for smaller winery operations allowing every thing from purchasing a barrel and bottling it to a Alternating Proprietorship program. The Wine Makers share the equipment, and facilities and enjoy the use of a bonded warehouse and the ability to sell and distribute their wine through the Wine Collective and online. Additional services include a turn-key e-commerce program and tasting room management.
TVWM wine production is overseen by Consulting Wine Maker Tim Kramer, the company was founded by Leonesse Cellars and Stage Ranch Farm Management Company.
The Johnstons will be at the Collective on April 11 and 24 to pour wine and chat with their growing fan base, be sure to stop by and chat while tasting their fantastic range of wines.
Also coming up is a Wine Makers Dinner in Idllywild on April 23. Click for more details.
Mention that you read about Middle Ridge Winery on Taste of Temecula, and you will become a Wine Club Member for a week, enjoying 20% off the price per bottle, and 25% off for a full case of wine.
Wine Club: 951-699-8896 ext. 101
The Wine Collective
28544 Old Town Front St.